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Leinster Rugby (12) 12 - 3 (3) Edinburgh Rugby
RDS Showground
Att: 18,214
Sunday, 25 January 2009, 13:00

Leinster went into the final group game on top of Group 2 and knowing that they had to match the result of rivals Wasps who had travelled to Castres. The Leinster supporters in attendance were hoping for the four try win that would guarantee a safe passage through to the last eight and also had one eye on the events in south-west France.

Leinster started well, managing to win some early penalties at the scrum; an area that had been of some concern in recent weeks. Leinster's attempts to push for field position were being undone by the lineout however with the first couple of Jackman's darts going astray.

The match was punctuated with the referee's whistle with Edinburgh conceding ten in the first half alone. Leinster opted to place kick on four occasions opting to build up a match winning lead rather than go for the tries that would guarantee their progression into the quarters.

Leinster had shown some flashes of old in the first half with some nice breaks and at times seemed to have Edinburgh on the rack. Edinburgh were reduced to fourteen men on 24 minutes and while Leinster struck the three points from the resulting penalty, it was Edinburgh who went on the scoreboard in the ten minutes while they were a man short. In fact as John Houston was coming back onto the pitch Leinster were awarded their fourth penalty of the half and did not have the ambition to go for the jugular, opting for the certainty of the points.

Contepomi seems to have put his early season wobbles with the boot behind him and he produced a 100% strike rate with the boot in the first half while Chris Paterson added a sole strike for Edinburgh's three half time points.

The second half was played in conditions that seemed to put paid to any lingering hopes of four tries. In fact the scoreline was the same at the half time and full time whistles, but this does not tell the full story of the second half. Leinster struggled to create clear scoring opportunities but there were some stand out performances from man of the match Rob Kearney in particular and Cian Healy also caught the eye.

Leinster enjoyed almost complete territory and possession in a frustrating second half and couldn't cross the line, Brian O'Driscoll butchering a great chance. Poor handling, discipline and intensity meant that Leinster were at times physically camped on the Edinburgh line but couldn't break through the resolute Scottish defence.

Fitzgerald thought he had scored a try when he picked up following Contepomi's pass to his shoelaces but the referee adjudged that the ball had rolled forward. The television replays confirmed that this was a harsh call.

The news from France that Wasps had taken a lead and scored two tries made the match slightly the more anxious for the spectators as the match unfolding at the RDS was petering out and merely securing a win was foremost on Leinster's minds.

Thankfully for Leinster, Edinburgh did not have either the ambition or capability to threaten the Leinster line and a few forays into the Leinster half aside, were little of a threat. The news coming from France that Castres had taken a lead against Wasps triggered the largest cheer of the day as the referee's whistle brought the match to an end.

Leinster were through and now face a quarter final in London against Harlequins. There was much for the management to reflect on though as the third match in a row passes without the oppositions try line being breached. More pleasing will be Contepomi's form with the boot having missed only one attempt in three games. Kearney's form too will be well received albeit at the expense of the ultra dependable Girvan Dempsey.

Leinster have a break now for the six nations and although they have yet to hit top form will be happy to be in the position they are in. When they resume Magners League duties against Llanelli they will have an opportunity to stake a claim for top spot of the league and after a stuttering start to the season, to be in contention for the two top prizes will be a platform from which to build.

Match Statistics

Leinster Rugby
Edinburgh Rugby
Penalties Contepomi (4)   Paterson
Sin Bin     Houston (24-34)
Teams Rob Kearney 15 Chris Paterson
Shane Horgan 14 Andrew Turnbull
Brian O'Driscoll 13 John Houston
Felipe Contepomi 12 Nick de Luca
Luke Fitzgerald 11 Simon Webster
Isa Nacewa 10 David Blair
Chris Whitaker (C) 9 Greig Laidlaw

Cian Healy 1 Kyle Traynor
Bernard Jackman 2 Andrew Kelly
Stan Wright 3 Geoff Cross
Trevor Hogan 4 Craig Hamilton
Devin Toner 5 Ben Gissing
Rocky Elsom 6 Scott Newlands
Shane Jennings 7 Scott Cross
Jamie Heaslip 8 Allister Hogg (C)

Replacements John Fogarty (for Jackman, 69)
16 Steve Lawrie (for Kelly, 72)
Ollie le Roux (for Healy, 74)
17 Gavin Kerr (for Traynor, 55)
Stephen Keogh 18 Jim Hamilton
Sean O'Brien 19 Alan MacDonald (for Hogg, 51)
Chris Keane 20 Ben Meyer
Gordon D'Arcy (for Horgan, 54)
21 Jim Thompson
Girvan Dempsey 22 Roland Reid

Not considered
due to injury

Leo Cullen (shoulder)
Stephen Knoop (neck)
CJ van der Linde (foot)

Officials Referee: Chris White (RFU)
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank (RFU), Stuart Terheege (RFU)
4th Official: Peter Dennehy (ARLB)
5th Oficial: Barry O'Keeffe (ARLB)
TMO: Geoff Warren

by Sarah Lennon, © 2009-01-27